Hamas Official Claims Deal With Fatah Is Cinched

Speaking to London-based Arabic-language daily Al-Quds al Arabi, Ahmed Yousef said agreement reached on establishment of Palestinian state in West Bank and Gaza with Jerusalem as its capital.

Fatah and Hamas have agreed that the next Palestinian government will be located in the Gaza Strip and its next prime minister will be from Gaza, an adviser to Gaza's Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said on Sunday.

Speaking to the London-based Arabic-language daily Al-Quds al Arabi, Ahmed Yousef also said agreement had been reached on a political program that was acceptable to all Palestinian factions - the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with Jerusalem as its capital. Yousef said Hamas would support efforts by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to secure full Palestinian membership in United Nations institutions. He added that Abbas is expected to visit Gaza soon.

But a few hours after the interview was published a few senior officials from both Hamas and Fatah disputed Yousef's claims, saying the details of the agreement will be worked out at Wednesday's scheduled meeting in Cairo between Abbas and the Damascus-based Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal. The secretary general of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, Amin Makboul, said there was no agreement that the next prime minister would come from Gaza.

Salah Bardawil, a Hamas leader in the Strip, also said that not all of the details had been settled.

One option reportedly under discussion is for Salam Fayyad, prime minister of the West Bank-based PA, to serve as finance minister in the transitional Palestinian government.

At their meeting Wednesday Abbas and Meshal will likely determine the identity of the prime minister for an interim Palestinian government as well as the process for holding parliamentary and presidential elections in May 2012.

Meanwhile, on his Facebook page Fayyad wrote that he would not force impose himself upon the Palestinian people as prime minister and called reports alleging that he was false and damaging to the Palestinians. Fayyad urged all Palestinian factions to agree on a new prime minister.

At present it appears the parties have agreed to determine the prime minister for the transitional government in the meeting between Abbas and Meshal. Some observers believe Abbas will ask Meshal to accept Fayyad in the position but will no longer insist on it.